Is there anything more dispiriting than the barren post-holiday wasteland of early January?
Outside the landscape is dark and bitterly cold. Inside the absence of cheery holiday décor is keenly felt. And all around the waistline, the abandonment of regular exercise routines and sound dietary judgment during the season are uncomfortably apparent. This is not, in other words, the most inspiring time to try to reboot those neglected fitness regimens, since every attempt tends to feel like trying to start a car in the deep freeze of winter—a lot of groaning without much movement.
But even solid fitness habits can benefit from seeing January as an opportunity for freshness and renewal. As hard as it might be to get back up on that horse (especially with extra holiday pounds), this is exactly the time to review diet and fitness goals and come up with a plan that’s going to stick for the rest of the year.
“First decide what your goal is going to be,” says Bonnie Kleinfelder, a personal trainer at Community Hospital Fitness Pointe in Munster. “Make your goal specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound. Once you have your goal in place, come up with a reasonable exercise schedule that you are confident you can commit to and put that goal and schedule in writing—as though it is a contract with yourself.”
Leah Okner agrees that the key to following through is commitment, which starts with a clear goal and the understanding of how life unfolds day to day. The wellness manager at Franciscan Health Fitness Centers in Schererville says that an all-in, five-days-a-week workout schedule may seem like a great idea until you have to skip some days in the first couple of weeks. The resulting discouragement may cause some people to give up.
“A better place to start would be to set a goal of working out three times a week and to put the times and dates you commit to into your calendar,” she explains. “Treat those as important meetings and plan around those times. But even if you can’t make it to the gym one day, try to increase your movement elsewhere because every little bit counts. Take the stairs or park farther away or do planks or squats during a commercial break—just because you didn’t make it to the gym doesn’t mean you failed, and it isn’t an excuse not to move.”
Once a reasonable goal is set and a sensible routine is in place, Kleinfelder and Okner agree that consistency and accountability are the keys to a successful fitness plan.